With J-10A production in full stride, Chengdu is working on integrating new technology, which may lead to an improved production aircraft. A prototype has been seen and photographed with several important new features. Most obvious are new radome and intake structures. The radome is longer than that of the J-10A, is flattened in the style of the F-16 and joins the fuselage structure at an angled bulkhead, suggesting that the aircraft could be fitted with an AESA antenna.
The J-10B also has a diverterless supersonic intake, employing a fixed serpentine duct that reduces frontal radar cross section by shielding the engine compressor face. Problems had also been reported with the J-10A’s original intake design, leading to the installation of inelegant bracing struts. It can be assumed that the new intake does not suffer in the same way.
Other changes include the installation of an infrared search-and-track turret forward of the windscreen, modified vertical fin with new electronic warfare antenna at the tip and revised underwing pylons.
Reports suggest that the J-10B prototype first flew in December 2008. It first appeared in chrome primer, before later gaining a two-tone light grey camouflage and the serial number 1031.